November 9, 2017
The Thunder Wrestling team opened their season on Saturday, as they traveled to Pennsylvania to compete at the Messiah Invitational. The team finished seventh out of 10 overall, but several individual performances really stood out. Senior Carlos Fuentez, who began the season ranked eighth in the nation by d3wrestle.com, won the 125-lb class, beating Philip Torresani of Elizabethtown by a 20-2 technical fall. His performance was good enough to earn him CCIW Wrestler of the Week honors. Sophomore Isaac Odell also performed admirably, as he beat the number two and three seeds in the tournament en route to a second place finish in the 184-lb class despite entering the competition unseeded. Overall, Head Coach Jim Gruenwald described the weekend as “good, but not great,” although he added, “There were some great moments.” He did, however, note that results aren’t the only thing he’s looking for: “I want best effort. Wins and losses shackle people, I told those guys ‘cut those chains, and go out there and wrestle your best’.”
The long trip to Messiah provided a good opportunity for the young team to bond. The team graduated five seniors in the offseason — two of whom were All-Americans — and will be looking to nine incoming freshmen to eventually step up and take their place. Despite all the financial and logistical concerns associated with such a long trip, Gruenwald still appreciates it. “I think the trip to Messiah is a great experience for the team to bond,” he said; “You’re with each other for three days in a way you probably haven’t been… I don’t like our team to be exclusive, but when you’re on a trip like that, you’re pretty much exclusive, because you’re traveling together.”
The Thunder return to action on Thursday, as they host Elmhurst at 7 p.m. in King Arena. Elmhurst College’s wrestling team is the defending CCIW Champion team. Wheaton got third in the CCIW Championship competition last year out of eight total teams.